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Harper's Christmas. Lithograph by Edward Penfield, 1894.

Winter Poster Masterpieces

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My latest Flickr album is titled Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow. Featured in it is a poster advertising the December 1895 issue of Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. Designed by Joseph J. Gould, it shows a holly-festooned woman carrying the latest issue of the magazine as the snow swirls around her:

Lippincott’s December. Lithograph by J.J. Gould Jr., 1895.

In the 1890s a number of publications issued a monthly poster to promote their latest issue.

Arguably the most prolific of the designers of these posters was Edward Penfield (1866-1925) with his work for Harper’s Monthly Magazine. Beginning in 1891, Penfield was the head of the art department of Harper and Brothers publishing house. He designed his first poster for Harper’s in 1893. His posters featured members of the middle class in informal poses, usually reading or carrying an issue of Harper’s. Here are three Penfield posters for December issues. First up, 1894:

Harper’s Christmas. Lithograph by Edward Penfield, 1894.

His 1896 poster includes a dog instead of a cat but still features the areas of flat color that characterize much of Penfield’s work. In a nod to the holiday season, both posters include holly wreaths and/or garland:

Harper’s Christmas. Lithograph by Edward Penfield, 1896.

In 1897 a man sits reading Harper’s near a sign with the evergreen message “Peace on Earth Good Will Toward Men.” I like to think that he is sitting near a crackling fire:

Harper’s Christmas. Lithograph by Edward Penfield, 1897.


Penfield worked for Harper’s until 1901. He continued to design posters, including for various causes during World War I, and worked in book illustration.

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